Predicting a Mother's Role in Investing in Children's Education

Akshaya Vijayalakshmi, Meng-Hsien (Jenny) Lin, Sarah Ricks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


We consider the role of mothers in improving their children’s educational status in India. Women with greater autonomy are suggested to impact a child’s overall well-being positively. It is shown that an autonomous mother uses her discretion to invest in resources benefitting her children. Using data from a large-scale survey database from India, we investigate the relationship between a mother’s autonomy and their children’s educational investments. We find that a mother with strong natal relations, one of the four dimensions of autonomy, is likely to impact educational expenditures positively. However, going against conventional wisdom, we find that other dimensions of autonomy, a mother’s mobility and involvement in child-related decision-making, are negatively related to educational spending. We further investigate this unusual finding via in-depth interviews. Our interview data reveal that the conventional autonomy measure may have failed to capture the societal and cultural aspects within the Indian context and may misrepresent how women exercised their freedom. Instead, we propose that psychological empowerment may better reflect a woman’s perception of autonomy.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationConsumer Culture Theory in Asia
StatePublished - 2021


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